Kristi's Bolognese Base
5 pounds ground meats of choice
5 ribs of celery with leaves
5 cloves of garlic (or more . . . we like a lot of garlic)
16 oz mushrooms
1 large Sam's Club sized can of diced tomatoes
12 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh minced flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp pepper
Process all of the fresh veggies in the food processor until they are very small bits. Set aside. In a LARGE pot, cook your meat in batches so it browns and doesn't boil and turn gray. Remove the meat to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook the veggies in the meat grease in batches until soft. Remove the veggies to a bowl and discard remaining grease. Using the same pot, return the meat to the pot and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat and stir until paste is melted and starts to bubble and turn a rusty reddish-brown color. Add your veggies and diced tomatoes with their liquid. Stir well and add your seasonings. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook uncovered for at least 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Let it cool and transfer to freezer bags or containers of your choice in 3 cup portions. It will be the consistency of a thick ground beef chili. Freeze until ready to use. This recipe usually yields 7-8 packets of sauce base. Please ignore the 6 inches of snow in my freezer. I need to defrost it. I usually stack the bags like this for maximum storage space. I do the same with dried beans that I have prepared.
When I am ready to make the sauce, I usually set a packet of sauce base on the counter in the morning.
By dinner time it is mostly defrosted and slides right out of the bag and into a medium sauce pan. Then I add a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and 2 tsp Italian seasoning. Simmer over low heat while your pasta is cooking. If you want to make it a true Bolognese Sauce, stir 1 cup of milk or cream into the sauce about 2 minutes before removing from the heat. It is fine as a meat sauce but the cream just adds more flavor and richness. Serve your sauce over your favorite pasta (we had penne).
NOTE: You can use just beef in this recipe but, I usually use a mixture of beef, pork, veal, sausage, turkey or whatever I have on hand to add up to 5 pounds of meat. You can also add more or different veggies. This is my basic recipe but I have used bell peppers and eggplant in it before with good results. I try to use whatever is in season.
ANOTHER NOTE: You can use the fully prepared sauce to put together a lasagna or baked ziti or in any recipe you would use a meat sauce.
LAST NOTE (I PROMISE): You can use the packet of sauce as a taco meat by omitting the 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and Italian seasoning and adding an envelope of taco seasoning (or the equivalent of homemade taco seasoning) and 1/3 cup of water. Simmer together in a pan and serve as you would for tacos, burritos, whatever you like.
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